Hooked On High Altitude

By Kiviok Hight

Hooked on AltitudeKiviok Hight
Colorado, 2008, DIY, Public Land

We’ve all had moments in our life that have changed us forever. Climbing out of a couloir feeling like I narrowly escaped death or s evere injury while mountain goat hunting was one of mine. I was trying to make a descent through a narrow vertical chute when the rocks under me gave out. Able to make a handhold to save my position, I watched the rocks explode as they bounced and plummeted 800 feet below me. I climbed out of the gully to the face of the mountain and scrambled to the top.

Upon reaching safe ground, I paused and scratched my head in the confusion of my thoughts. Normally, self-preservation instincts would take over and one would choose not to return to a similar situation, but my adrenaline rush left me begging for more. I had never felt so alive; I was literally on top of the world! I couldn’t wait for the following day and the chance to do it all over again. I was hooked on the vertical world above 12,000 feet and the mountain goats that call it home.

Sane probably isn’t the best adjective used to describe me. I’d pass a B&C animal on the side of the road everyday to chase an average animal in the deepest gorge or highest peak. My spring and summer preparation for the archery season is littered with countless high country rides and runs under 12 hours, multiple bike rides between 12 and 24 hours, ultra runs with and without full backpacks, and to top it off, a non-stop six- to ten-day multi-sport backcountry race to finally say I’m ready to hunt.

Accepting a turned in mountain goat tag two days after the season started goes right along with my lack of sanity. I love the thrill and the frustration that accompanies a challenging hunt. This year’s mountain goat hunt would turn out to be the granddaddy of them all. Nineteen days of hunting above 12,000 feet, over 60,000 feet of elevation gain, every bit of extreme weather you’d expect to find in the high country, solo hunts, and hunts with buddies would highlight this expedition.

After accepting the tag, I called my elk hunting buddy, Roger Kiva, to tell him the great news. I also told him I was changing our plans to scout the unit we drew for elk in New Mexico to allow me a few days in the wilderness chasing goats instead. After a lengthy reply of primarily four letter words, he calmed down enough to let me give him the coordinates in the wilderness to find me when he arrived from Canada. A few more cuss words followed, but he finally admitted he was excited to experience a mountain goat hunt.

Hooked on Altitude

For a full account of Kiviok's adventure, go to page 14 in the July/August 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.